From the AP:
Dina Merrill, the rebellious heiress who defied her super-rich parents to become an actress, often portraying stylish wives or "the other woman," has died. She was 93.
Merrill died Monday, according to a family spokeswoman. The cause of death and other details weren't immediately available Tuesday.
With the help of Katharine Hepburn, who recommended her for the 1957 comedy "The Desk Set," Merrill was a popular star for years, due in part to her resemblance to Grace Kelly. Her films included "Operation Petticoat," "The Sundowners" and Robert Altman's Hollywood satire "The Player." She was also a dedicated philanthropist and supporter of the arts.
In Toobworld, most of the characters she played were members of those blue-blooded, blue-nosed patrician families who were proud of their lineages. Most of them could trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower, I'm thinking. And some of them even went to extremes to protect their family names.....
I'm actually thinking they all can trace their heritage back to the Mayflower, all descended from the same Pilgrim, no doubt, although the first few generations were closely related so that eventually their descendants could claim they were related to all of the Pilgrims. But even so, eventually the families expanded over the following four hundred years to encompass many other surnames, but always with an eye to maintaining the high level of breeding to which they were accustomed. In a way, they were practicing eugenics.
So I'm making the claim that almost all of the characters played by Dina Merrill in regular TV series, both dramatic and sitcoms, were all related. Perhaps a few were siblings, but not all of them - pity that poor mother if that was so! But there could be a few "Identical Cousins" (which for Toobworld could mean that they shared the same father if not the same mother.) And since telegenetics are strong, repeating exactly down through countless generations as we've seen in several TV shows, it's not unusual for all of these Dina Merrill televersions to be related, even distantly.
Some of these women proved themselves to be more than just members of the Beautiful Elite in good standing, just as Ms. Merrill did. One became a judge in the New York City courts; another became a renowned marine biologist while her twin sister followed a similar path, but in chemistry. One of these socialites used her influence in the world of newspapers; another became an "actress"; still another an international hotelier. One even became a spy! Others turned their back on their standings in society and perhaps their fortunes in order to help people in the inner cities.
And there were a few, however, who would do anything to protect their family's reputation and fortunes... including murder.
Most of them tried to marry well, but in that regard fame and wealth were never a guarantee for the "Happily Ever After".
As I collected all of these characters from the IMDb, I realized that she really is an interesting topic for several blog posts. And I'll be saving at least two of those posts for this August, when I showcase TV Westerns.
But to begin with, here are all of the women of Earth Prime-Time who were of the same generation level, and may soon be following Dina Merrill into the Big HIatus (if they haven't passed away already.....)
- Lady Godiva (1961)
Helen Rowan Randolph
Evans is wakened by a friendly warning that his publisher, Helen Rowan Randolph, is in Hong Kong. She's an old love of Evans' and Howard Conrad was the cause of many quarrels between them in the days when Glenn, Helen, and Conrad were reporting the Korean War. (Rowan Randolph had married the late owner of the Taylor's newspaper.) Now Helen is pressing the Hong Kong police to solve the Conrad murder. He calls her a modern Lady Godiva who wears clothes, a Carrie Nation with a typewriter. She calls him an insufferable, intransigent, insensitive, incurable male. They've missed each other.
- Style of Living (1961)
Russ Andrews, Steve Banks and Bill Davis are investigators working for a very successful detective agency in New York City. Their cases are all tied to very large insurance claims. A wealthy wife, Valerie Corbin, is concerned for her gambling husband's life.
The New Breed
- So Dark the Night (1962)
O'BSERVATION: I don't have information on what happened in this episode.
- Oh, My Daughter (1962)
Gillespie's daughter leaves her home in Paris to come to Blair for tests. When she is told she is pregnant, she bitterly and angrily denies it, and tries to jump out a window. A psychiatrist tries to discover the source of her fears.
O'BSERVATION: So it appears that Dr. Gillespie married into this blossoming family tree and contributed to the wealth of these socialites.
- A Very Rough Sketch (1962)
A young man who has just won an art contest learns that his father has been arrested for embezzling from his company. Now Checkmate must find a good influence who can stop him from turning violent. An art teacher played by Dina Merrill at a local settlement house takes an interest in him, but of course he mistakes that as well.
- Who Killed Mr. X? (1963)
A body turns up at a merry-go-round. There are no identifying papers on the body and the labels have been removed from the man's clothing. The few clues available point Burke toward an actress under exclusive contract to Flood, a rarely seen industrialist. Burke discovers a number of women are under such exclusive contracts. Then, the detective discovers the dead man was Flood himself.
- Seaside Westside (1964)
Situation comedy in which Midwesterner Rooney, aided by Asian helper Sammee Tong, moves to Newport Beach to operate a motel he's inherited. The Gradys arrive in California to find their hotel full of guests – the non-paying variety.
O'BSERVATION: I don't know anything more about this first episode of the sitcom, nor about Angela.
- The Personal Touch (1964)
Alec masquerades as a wealthy Australian millionaire to extract a million dollars from ruthless shipping magnate Rodesko but the job is complicated when Alec's affection for Rodesko's fiancée grows.
- A Daring Step Backward (1965)
When Marcel's old flame, Clothilde, has her entire new fashion design line pirated, the family comes together to make the pirate "walk the plank".
Run for Your Life
- East of the Equator (1967)
A widow thinks her husband may be alive after seeing a painting resembling his work.
- The Controllers: Part 1 & 2 (1969)
An Eastern Bloc nation is trying to develop a mind-controlling drug, a project led by Dr. Karl Turek. Phelps devises a plan to play Turek off against a rival, Colonel Borodin. Phelps and Meredyth pose as a pair of defecting U.S. scientists, who supposedly have developed an alternative drug to the one that Turek is working on. The IMF's scheme calls for Turek to try to kill Borodin, which will result in a trial where Turek will be discredited. But the complicated plan goes awry and the episode ends with Phelps under fire by guards.
Phelps escapes but Borodin, who had been unconscious in the trunk of the car driven by the IMF driver, is killed by a shot fired by guards. This is a major setback to the IMF because Phelps' plan called for Borodin to denounce Turek at a trial. Now, Phelps & Co. must scramble to get the plan back on track. Meanwhile, Turek continues to make progress in perfecting his mind-controlling drug.
O'BSERVATION: Ms. Merrill played Meredyth, a temporary member of the IMF team.
The Name of the Game
- The Incomparable Connie Walker (1969)
- The Glory Shouter (1970)
Mayor Conway Walker is the victim of a smear campaign - or is he really corrupt? Jeff Dillon finds himself questioning his own loyalty.
Popular preacher Ronald Payden has mounted a crusade - but someone is embezzling his funds, Dan Farrell investigates who.
The Bold Ones: The New Doctors
- Angry Man (1971)
A caring but cynical paramedic has been treating indigent patients himself in a small inner-city office with very little medical facilities, and removing items from the hospital in order to treat them.
- Perfection of Vices (1971)
Lochner's college flame, whom he briefly married until her father had it annulled, is suffering from a heart ailment. But she refuses to have an angiogram which could pinpoint the problem. And she gives Lochner some unexpected news.
O'BSERVATION: I could be wrong, but that unexpected news? I think it means Dr. Lochner contributed to the family tree as well.
- The Monster (1965)
In the first episode, Erskine and Rhodes are assigned to track down Francis Jerome, an extortionist who has escaped from a federal prison in Pennsylvania. Erskine must also confront a number of personal issues when a woman involved in the case takes a liking to him.
- The Franklin Papers (1972)
A man and woman specialize in a certain type of con. She seduces rich men while he prepares elaborate forgeries of historical documents that's also part of the bait. Their latest con involves phony papers supposedly written by Benjamin Franklin. Erskine and Colby are on their tail. The woman is falling in love with her latest target. But the man has been joined by his estranged wife -- and she has her own ideas how to proceed.
Marcus Welby, M.D.
- A Cry in the Night (1973)
Dr. Carol Brooks
A marine biologist refuses to take even routine medical exams because she fears the effect test results will make on her professional and personal life.
- Murder by the Numbers (1973)
A wealthy middle-aged woman's fiancé disappears shortly before their scheduled wedding, and she hires Cannon to find him.
The Odd Couple
- Oscar in Love (1974)
Oscar finds a girl and wants to become a family man
- Kiss of Death (1975)
O'BSERVATION: I have no other information on this episode.
- Kingston (1976)
An investigative reporter, backed by the head of a newspaper and TV chain, uncovers a plot to utilize nuclear power plants in a scheme to take over the world.
- Nine Dragons (1976)
Dr. Barbara Dalton
Wo Fat poses as a Chinese scientist as part of a plot to steal a deadly toxin from the University of Hawaii.
- Who's Who in Neverland (1976)
Margo Bentley's book about her experiences hobnobbing with powerful people worldwide just might be a best-seller. Concerned about advance publicity, she advises her agent that she'll continue working in a hotel, under an alias. Hours later, she's dead, apparently of liver cirrhosis. Unmoved by Quincy's objections, Asten releases the body to a funeral home that quickly cremates it. Then Quincy finds a strange microorganism in her blood - something he's never seen before. One of Margo's friends gives Quincy the New York telephone number of her literary agent, but Quincy finds that avenue closed - by the days earlier death of that agent, apparently from liver cirrhosis...
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
- A Haunting We Will Go (1977)
Nancy and her friends are putting on a stage show that will bring in money to build a youth center. The original play was at this theater years ago. Nancy got all the original actors to come and put on the play for free for her cause. Funny things start happening. Lights start falling, windows that were locked are opened and people almost get killed. The actors arrive and all hate each other. The actors have been blackmailed and each one thinks the other actor is blackmailing them.
The Love Boat
Take My Boyfriend, Please Parts 1 & 2 (1979)
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are among those on board for a charity cruise to benefit an orphanage. Helen Ames (Dina Merrill) thinks that her daughter Wendy (Gaye Carter), a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, is trying to steal her boyfriend Bill Kelly (William Windom) from her.
Kate Wyler is an automotive engineer, who is married to Jim, a veterinarian. She is currently working on a project for Victor Modrian. It appears that his wife Estelle doesn't like the attention that he is giving Kate and the way that he is handling the business. One day Victor is killed, and evidence points to Kate. The most damaging evidence appears to be surveillance photo that shows Kate buying the gun that killed Victor. Kate is convicted. Later Jim discovers a homeless woman who is a dead ringer for Kate. It then dawns on Jim that this woman was probably the one who posed as Kate in the surveillance photo. He then also discovers that Estelle's behind the whole thing. But with no evidence or witness to back his story, Jim breaks Kate out and together they try [to find] the girl who posed as Kate, while not only staying ahead of the law but of Estelle to who is trying to either get rid of them.
- The Wedding (1984)
The St. Gregory is hosting a wedding between two people from wealthy families. However, the groom's father is having money troubles and the bride's father is having an affair. And that's just the start.
- Opening Moves (1986)
After Victoria dies, Peter is left in charge. However, there is one Cabot that wants him out.
- Queen's Gambit (1986)
Peter continues his battle with Charles for control of the hotel.
Murder, She Wrote
- The Monte Carlo Murders (1992)
Jessica is in Monte Carlo visiting her good friend, hotelier Annie Floret. They haven't seen each other for 10 years and Jessica quickly realizes that her friend is under a great deal of pressure. She learns from police Inspector Morel that Annie owes a great deal of money to businessman Earp Harper and will lose everything if she doesn't come up with the payment within a few days. When Harper is found in his suite stabbed in the chest with a pair of scissors and a very expensive piece of jewelry goes missing, the police arrest Peter Templeton, a one-time jewel thief who worked in the hotel. Annie however fears that her son Richie, who had earlier threatened Harper, is behind the killing.
- The Two Mrs. Sheffields (1995)
When Maxwell's mother wants him to get rid of Fran, Maxwell reacts by proposing to Fran who makes him feel very guilty for using her.
- Ambition (1998)
A friend of K.C.'s has been having an affair for a man running for re-election as a Senator. When she has an accident, his mother decides to have the woman murdered. Now it is up to Chapel to set things right.
100 Centre Street
- Bottlecaps (2001)
Judge Helen Randolph
O'BSERVATION: I have no other information on this episode.
Over the course of next week I will be looking at some of her other roles in Toobworld which sparked my interest for their televisiological value.
Good night and may God bless......
(The plot descriptions come from the IMDb.....)